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Volunteered at the Botanical Garden for the Second Time

After being among people at this time of year both Saturday and Sunday, and on little sleep Saturday as well, it’s not surprising that I now have a cold, or at least I hope it’s just a cold. Felt my throat just start to be a little sore when I woke up yesterday and knew what was coming, which was one reason why I ran that day as well, knowing I should take it easy once it’ll really hit me, and that happened last evening. Not that bad at the moment, sore throat, nose just starting to be runny, feeling a bit weak and colder than I should, but let’s see how it’ll develop and how long it’ll last, because at the moment the forecast states that the only day when it won’t rain next week will be Tuesday, in which case I really should be running again then.

Speaking of running, yesterday I actually wore my training shirt as well and the time was 48:23, with sector times of 4:14, 5:10, 5:54, 4:27, 5:05, 5:56, 4:31, 5:13, 6:07 and 1:46, making for lap times of 15:18, 15:28 and 15:51. So actually matched the first sector record, in part thanks to the fact that the guy who had just passed my starting location right before I started looked behind when I caught up to him and pushed harder, first staying ahead and then actually slowly increasing the distance between us towards the end of the sector, and that made me push a bit more as well. But he went on a different route shortly after that and I didn’t maintain that pace, not that it’d have been possible either way, considering the gusts of wind. I seemed to be running against the wind on most straights, three of them just on sector two, leading to those relatively poor sector two times. But at least I managed to get below 1:50 on the final sector again, for the first time since setting the current overall record, over a month ago.

Since I’m going in reverse order, there are a few things to mention about Sunday as well, which weren’t included in the previous post, which was something of a mix between a personal one and a proper protest report but nevertheless only covered the protest itself. As such, I’ll start by mentioning that I walked both to Victory Square and back from Constitution Square, since dad had the metro card, and that I saw a mouse when I entered the building, at the top of the stairs, ending up chasing it to the next floor and watching it struggle up another flight of stairs to get there, since I was coming from outside and it was running away from me, so I couldn’t chase it out.
What I really want to add, however, is the fact that on the way back I managed to take my best picture yet of the night sky. I tend to take a very long exposure shot of the sky in a dark place on a street when I come back from somewhere well after dark, have the camera with me, the sky’s sufficiently clear and there’s a parked car conveniently placed in such a dark spot, placing the camera on the car, so it won’t shake, but normally I hold it tilted, don’t just leave it pointing straight up, so the image ends up badly shaken anyway. But this time I found a darker than usual place nearby, since some streetlights still don’t work, and just left it pointing straight up with the maximum exposure time and ISO setting my old camera is capable of, so 15 seconds and 800, respectively, and it came up with something quite nice, at least if you ignore the lens issue that makes a spot appear darker. Would have been better if closer to the new moon, I assume, as that was just after the full moon and it was close to the pictured patch of sky, so I assume that light drowned out some more stars. But still, there are plenty of stars there that I doubt you could spot with the naked eye from the city unless you have incredible eyesight.

But I’m 700 words into the post and am just now getting to what I should be writing about in it, which is how Saturday went, when I volunteered at the Botanical Garden for the second time, taking part in this year’s Autumn Cleaning after first going to the Spring Cleaning back in March. Admittedly, there may be less to say this time around, since we were organized into teams of three and each given an area to clear, but things changed after a point and there are a few other things to mention as well, so I’ll get to it.
See that back in spring I meant to wake up at 7:30 AM, waking up ten minutes earlier instead, and still managed to leave before 8:30 AM, but now I woke up at 7 AM and still only left at 8:20 AM. Nevertheless, I actually got about two hours of sleep, since I went to bed a bit after 4 AM and think I was asleep around 5 AM, which I didn’t expect. And then I got some three more hours in the evening, so overall it wasn’t bad, as there are plenty of days when I only actually sleep about five or five and a half hours without needing to wake up at a certain time, but I did work for a good six hours on just those initial two hours of sleep and was feeling rather out of it in the evening, even after that nap.
Either way, arrived there at 9:15 AM again, or maybe just a minute or so before, registered, drew a ticket as I was told, since this time the “prizes” were different gift shop items instead of the plants everyone got back in spring, arranged things in my backpack and waited until, right on time, Anca again led us all to the same area in front of the gift shop, where she told us what we were going to do that day and gave that speech about safety. Unlike last time, however, now she said we should work in groups of three and asked whether we’ll form our own groups or she should, eventually telling those who did form their own to go to one side while she quickly assigned the others, which led to me working with what I believe was a married couple. Or at least they had the same last name, but I can’t say I noticed any displays of affection, so I guess it’s also possible that they were siblings.
After that was done, we were told to grab the tools and follow her to the area we were to work in, or more exactly she said she’ll try a bit of positive discrimination and told the men to grab everything and let the women walk without a care, resulting in general laughter. And I actually grabbed six rakes, three in each hand, which became rather difficult to manage after a while, since we walked farther than I thought we would. But when I stopped for a moment because one was about to slip, a girl asked to take it instead, and then when we all stopped a bit before our destination, to wait for everyone to catch up, Anca spotted me and told others to help out, so within seconds I was left carrying a single rake, the one I ended up using.
Once in the proper area, we were told each team should work on a strip that’s about two meters wide, Anca eventually assigning the areas as well, and clear everything between the fence and the path on the other side. And since my teammates had grabbed the pruning shears and also gardening gloves for all, I stayed with the rake, though I also took the offered pair of gloves this time, since they were significantly better than what had been offered last time. Still not as good as mine, which I had with me, but good enough, so I kept mine for another time. Considering a few things we found among the leaves, it was probably a good idea not to take back and reuse what was used to protect my hands anyway.
After that, we got to work, with them usually pulling and cutting plants while I raked and tried to put everything into a pile, switching from one to the other because he took the area between the path going through there and the fence, which was small but full of large plants to clear away, while she started making her way from that path to the end of our strip. And we started quite quickly, advancing faster than others, but later during the day other teams did get ahead, not that any managed to finish their strip. Not that I’m aware of, at least. But, of course, the length of the strips varied significantly, the width was also not quite equal, and there was a significant difference in what and how much there was to clear in each of them, so there’s no way to really compare.
The problem was that once again the tractor took far too long to arrive and could load far too little, and this time there were no employees helping to load either, plus that it just tended to stop at the beginning of the area, away from where we were, and then, especially later, maybe again on the other side, after going around. And without someone to organize this again, there were a lot of piles building up. We tried to take a couple of baskets to where the tractor was, but it took too much time away from the actual work for too little gain, so we largely just built up our pile until Anca first asked the men to carry as much as possible directly to the place where it should really be gathered, which was quite far, and eventually asked everyone to drop everything else and just carry. So I ended up going the long way with a basket first with him, then with her while he went ahead with a wheelbarrow, then with an older woman who was on the tractor and helped me dump a basket in it after I was left alone with it. I’m sure I know her from somewhere too, but whether that’s from March or from some protest, I have no idea.
In between, my teammates did take a couple of breaks while I just kept working, seeing that I could do so and not even feeling like trying to find some tea, since someone had offered coffee a couple of times but that apparently wasn’t done for tea as well. Then again, when they took their first break, she went to bring something for all of us, but I’m not even sure if she brought tea for all or just water for me, because I didn’t even look at that cup, leaving it on the fence where she had placed it. I’m used to not eat or drink until late, after all, and at that point it seemed like it’ll be harder to get back to work after a break than to just keep going. And we did seem rather disorganized after that, actually, but that was probably due to the fact that we were all in the same area, after he had finished the one near the fence, and started to have to stop and carry baskets all the way too.
Rather nasty was the fact that, among leaves to rake and plants to pull and cut, there was trash of a different kind as well. And while a few plastic cups or wrappings from various things are one thing, there were also a couple of apparently electrical devices, unrecognizable for me but looking rather suspicious, and two syringes. Those were definitely the most troubling, and after spotting the first one while raking the area the guy had cleared I initially left it there, making sure he was aware of it as well, and then went back to pick it up with a leaf, so not even my glove will touch it directly, and leave it on the fence, on the outside. Then I did the same with the second after spotting it right after putting the first one away.
Either way, finished with the bottom of my boots full of mud, since it had rained a little the night before, and dirt all over, but my jacket had been up in a tree most of the time and I had my shoes in my backpack as well, so I changed out of the boots at the end. And speaking of the boots, I took them again now and my attempt to glue the bottoms back still held for the left one, but the front part of the right one came loose again right after I got there, on the way to the gift shop area at the beginning. But if I could do the work with both of them loose back in spring, I managed with one now, and it didn’t seem to have gotten worse than it was back then at least. I’ll definitely need to do something about those though, if they can be fixed at all anymore, because winter is coming too.
And speaking of finishing, Anca had apparently made the call to end the day’s work while I was still returning with that other woman after carrying that last basket. And since she also stopped to gather a pile of gloves left on a bench by others and then told me to get back and grab a bunch of rakes left against a tree, by the time I got back to the group my backpack and jacket were apparently the last ones left in a tree, somebody asking if they were mine, though I then saw that my teammates were still in the area too, having gathered their things but only walking towards the group after I started running to grab my stuff too. But getting back to the group just as they were leaving meant I was left with nothing to carry on the way back, another guy having picked up several rakes that time and refusing others’ repeated attempts to help until almost reaching the gift shop area.
Once there, we took the group photo and received our rewards, in the form of the diploma, the badge and the permit granting four free entries to the Botanical Garden, plus the prize each had drawn, without looking, at the start of the day. I got a magnet, being able to choose the text from what was still available, so I just pushed aside the first one, which said “enjoy life” or something like that, which I frowned at, and quickly grabbed the second to get out of there, and that said “be kind to others”. Other possible rewards were things like keychains, bookmarks or pens, plus one t-shirt and one pot, the ones who won those being told to go inside the gift shop and pick from what’s available there. In addition, two terrariums were given separately, at the end, as additional big prizes to two volunteers whose names Anca drew… Though she had to draw four to get two who were still there, even though she had told everyone to stay because there will be two big prizes at the end and those who’ll leave will lose their chance. And one of the names drawn was that of the girl I had been in the same team with, but they had both left just before that moment, so she missed her chance. Tried to send a message to someone with that name from the group, just letting her know she shouldn’t have left, but there’s no picture, so I can’t know whether that got to the right person or not, and I got no reaction so far anyway.

Seems like I didn’t have less to say after all, or not much less at least. But before ending this I should also mention that I got myself a pizza on the way back, from the same place I tend to buy from when I happen to do so, also going to the toilet there and then watching them try, and apparently fail, to figure out how to fit a group of 14 that was apparently coming a bit later in a small room. They were still struggling with that when the pizza was ready and brought to me, at which point a waitress insisted on giving me the “bill”, which was in fact the receipt, in a small basket even though I just tried to grab it straight from her hand. Then there was some confusion when I tried to pay there as well, the waitress I tried to give the money to probably being new, since she didn’t know what to do about that, and the one who seemed to be in charge taking the receipt from me and going with her to the register to show her… And then I had the young waitress rush after me on the street to give me back the receipt, which I had just left with them since they were using it when I left with my pizza… Which was a bit awkward, but also nice, seeing as some won’t even give you a receipt at all. And the pizza was once again tasty, of course.

Oh, forgot something that happened Monday night, when I went to the kitchen: The remote in the kitchen is held together by rubber bands and one had snapped, so I removed it and put another one there, but that was a tiny one which I stretched really tight in order to wrap around that side three times. What happened next was that I heard two loud snaps behind me when I went to the bathroom, but couldn’t figure out what the source was. Eventually did quite a long time later, when I was about to actually start eating after making a salad as well, and I wanted to change the channel and saw that rubber band missing. So I assume it snapped and launched with quite some force in a random direction, as I could find no pieces of it anywhere. Just hope I didn’t eat it, since I had water boiling for tea at the time, was making that salad, had bread sliced on a plate and other food in a bowl right on the table where the remote was, and that thing must have been filthy, and so is the remote for that matter.

And on the topic of things I forgot, should have mentioned earlier that I stopped reading my story too, after that sex scene which marked the last moment I had planned from the beginning before what should be the very end of what was planned as the first book, after the entire sea voyage. That happened at the end of October, and the next day, or more exactly the next night, so it was already November 1, I also fixed the handful of typos I had noticed and written down, after which I put my story away for good, no longer having anything to do with it after about a year and four months of my brain nagging me to start writing, seven full years of daily writing and three and a half months of daily reading.
Also glanced at an old backup file I had, since I was going to replace it with the file as it was when I stopped writing, so before fixing even those typos, and that told me that during the past two years and two and a half months of daily writing I managed to add just over 78000 words, so averaged less than 100 words per day. And all of it pointless, of course, since with the exception of that sex scene and one funny moment involving the troll, which I actually didn’t even get to include, the sea voyage was a complete blank in my mind all along and just trying to push forward, writing something and hoping I’ll get an actual idea at some point, obviously didn’t work at all.

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